Improving biometrics for European border controls

As cross-border travel continues to grow in the EU, automated border control with biometric verification speeds travellers on their way. An EU-funded project is researching new biometric methods to further reduce delays and enhance the travelling experience for EU and non-EU citizens alike.

Automated border control (ABC) systems, particularly ABC gates at airports, enable biometric verification to be performed more rapidly and accurately than traditional manual passport checks.

Nevertheless, the current performance of ABC gates can still be improved upon, in terms of speed, accuracy, cost and availability. The problem of so-called 'spoofing', whereby a biometrics-based identification system is intentionally misled, is also a rising threat.

The EU-funded PROTECT project is researching and developing new biometric methods for the benefit of European border control and travellers. The researchers are addressing the problem of queuing at ABC gates as well as looking at ways to detect spoofing attempts through the use of multiple biometric measures and other counter-spoofing tactics.

The project is investigating and proposing less obtrusive approaches to biometric data capture and verification, particularly the use of emerging and contactless biometrics.

An extension to existing ABC gates is also being prototyped, with the identification process taking place in a 'biometric corridor' which a traveller can traverse without stopping.

Furthermore, PROTECT is considering the implications of biometrics in terms of legislation, citizens' and residents' rights and freedom of movement. A critical issue is the actual collection of biometric data, which could be construed as being in conflict with the right to privacy and data protection.

This matter requires very careful consideration. The correct balance must be achieved between the need for security and the privacy interests of the travelling public. In this light, the PROTECT project team is seeking ways to empower travellers, putting them in a situation whereby they can see and understand their own personal data and how it is being used.

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